48 hours.

I recently spiralled down, way down, this is how it went.

10:02 pm – Arrive at the pharmacy to pick up meds. Realize they closed at 10:00

11:00 pm – Going to sleep without one of my medications. About to spend the whole night twisting and turning.

4:30 am – Wake up soaked in sweat from a nightmare. Has to get up change clothes and bedding. Spends the next hour replaying the dream in my head.

7:15 am – Alarm goes off. I roll over and go back to sleep.

7:45 am – I wake up with a start, noticing I’ve slept in and jump out of bed to get ready for work.

8:06 am – Arrive back at the pharmacy to try and pick up my meds again. Realize they don’t open until 9:00…

8:10 am – Stop at a coffee shop to pick up breakfast. Coffee is burnt and they’re out of bagels.

8:20 am – Arrive at work.

4:30 pm – Arrive home from work. Immediately put on pyjamas and get in bed. Spend the next 5 hours napping on and off.

9:00 pm – Realize I didn’t go back to the pharmacy and now I am out of 2 different medications.

9:15 pm – Going to sleep for another stress filled night.

10:45 am – I wake up and race to meet my family for breakfast.

12:00pm – Arrive home and get back in bed. Spend the next 4 hours napping on and off.

4:30 pm – Arrive at the pharmacy to pick up both medications. Immediately takes one before driving home.

5:00 pm – Sitting in the driveway, feeling so heavy, wondering if I can make it into the house.

5:05 pm – Depression sinks in. Tears start to stream down my cheeks.

5:30 pm – I’m now sobbing and can’t figure out why. All of a sudden my mind is full of negativity.

5:45 pm – My mind starts heading back to it’s old ways, wondering where my old blade is. I start fighting with myself to stop. I start begging my mind to calm down.

6:00 pm – I fill the bathtub with hot water and climb in, hoping the water burning my skin will bring me back to the present.

6:30 pm – Still can’t calm down. As I refill the tub with hotter water my mind is flooded with negativity. I’m sobbing, my chest is heavy, it feels like my lungs are about to cave in.  When I feel like I can’t breathe anymore, I close my eyes, hold my breath and sink into the water. After what feels like an eternity my body’s natural instincts kick in and I sit up.

7:00 pm – Stumbling out of the tub, I gulp in fiery air, my lungs burning.

7:15 pm – I’m sitting in my bed focusing on my breathing, eventually it slows and I begin to write this post. Breaking down the past 48 hours into specific events, and accepting each individual event for what it was allows me to move past it and back into the now.

Cut to the next morning – I feel better. Lighter.

Sometimes it’s when you’ve been feeling the best that you hit the ground the hardest. Sometimes when you forget how horrible it feels, you forget how important your medications are to you.

Sometimes when all the happy has left your body you need to crack, so the light can find it’s way back in.

 

 

 

 

 

May 12

On April 25th, 2014 I decided to turn my life around. I decided I didn’t want to be sad anymore, and if I was going to live, I was going to live happily. Two weeks later, on May 12th, 2014 I stopped self-harming and started on the road to recovery.

The road to recovery can be very long, it can last anywhere from a week to your whole life. It isn’t a road that is easily travelled; it isn’t paved and it is all up hill. You’ll need to stop and take a rest sometimes and you might even slip backwards, however push forward because the feeling at the end is worth the struggle.

Everyone travelling on the road to recovery has a different path; Mine started with the purchase of a notebook. When I decided I was ready to stop cutting, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, I wanted to stop but I wasn’t exactly ready to let go of my blade. My therapist at the time told me to do something else to release, so I bought a notebook and sliced the pages instead of my skin. Seeing the cuts of paper fall out of the book was surprisingly satisfying. I’m not saying it “cured” me, or magically stopped my cravings, but it definitely helped because since that day I have not self-harmed once.

Along my journey I’ve found other things that have helped in my recovery. Reading, writing, yoga, strength training, and especially meditation. Meditation has been the one thing that I can always go to when I need a mental break, when I need a little push further up Recovery Road, when I needed to be reminded of the beauty in the world.

Through meditation I learned the story of the lotus. I learned that the lotus has to grow through thick mud and water before it is able to open to the sun and bloom. It was this story, as well as two quotes, that inspired me to get my latest tattoo. A lotus on my right leg, the leg I used to self-harm for the quote, “I am blooming from the wound where I once bled” by the poet, Rune Lazuli. The other being the quote featured above. It was Van Gogh who said “Normality is a paved road; It’s comfortable to walk but no flowers grow on it”. Recovery Road is not necessarily a “normal” route to take in life, but it is one that will change you. It will take you off the paved road and let you bloom.

Now I am two years clean of self-harm, with a lotus tattoo to remind me of all the mud that I have travelled through, and to remind me everyday to bloom.

Recovery

Quite often, I find myself wondering, what recovery feels like? How will I know when I start to recover from all the trauma that pins me down.

Mental illnesses are much the same as physical illnesses. If you break your leg, or get an infection, you take medications, rest, take care of your body. It’s the same for depression or anxiety, the medications (if you must), rest and take care of your mind. So it makes sense that recovery from a mental setback, would be the same as a physical setback.

When you’re recovering from the flu, you don’t necessarily notice, until you think about when the last time you coughed was and realize it’s been hours. I think its the same for depression, you don’t realize you’re feeling better until you think about how long it has been since the last time you felt down. Thinking back to when you felt down means a big step in recovery is reflection and knowing how to reflect without letting it affect you.

You must reflect on the negative experiences that made you who you are, to not let them have anything over you anymore. You must reflect on each time you’ve felt down, so you can recognize the space in-between when you felt fine. However, reflecting on the past can be a slippery slope. Its easy to get caught up in the past and let it hold you there, but if you look back with an analytical mindset you try and prevent that.

Having an analytical, or growth mindset when reflecting will allow you to look at your experiences from different views. One view being your heart, which remembers the emotions, and another being your brain, which acts as the outsider, able to understand multiple sides to every story. This turns your reflection into research, which to me, makes so much sense. If ever you didn’t understand something, you would research it. It’s the same for yourself, if at any point in time you don’t understand yourself or how you got to a certain place in your life, look back, research how, research why.

I’ve always been the type of person who only wants to focus on the present, and forget the past. However I’ve come to learn that you can only truly be in the present, the now, if your past isn’t holding you back. The past can be painful, very painful, which is why just trying to forget it doesn’t work, you must face it front on and come to terms with it. This starts with reflection.

Reflection turns into research. Research turns into recovery. Recovery turns into happiness.   

My Poetry Debut.

I’ve been working on loving my self, for some time now, and seeing I’m someone who struggles with depression and negative self-talk, it’s not easy. I guess re-wiring your mind isn’t supposed to be easy, is it.

From what I’ve learned, one of the major steps in learning how to love yourself, is taking care of yourself, physically and emotionally. Physically is the easy part. Exercise, eat well, drink lots of water, take your vitamins, and listen to your doctor. Taking care of your emotional self if the difficult part. You need to be able to recognize your emotions before you can understand them, and you need to understand them before you can heal them.

Years of therapy have helped me recognize my emotions, and now I’m learning on the understanding and healing, which tend to go hand-in-hand. Often times, so I’ve realized, is once you finally understand something you’ve been feeling for such a long time, healing comes naturally. Almost as if what was holding you back from healing was not understanding why you were feeling a certain way.

Most of my healing has come from the help of poetry. Poetry has always been something I’ve loved, but not something I ever truly connected with, until recently. Reading the work of Lovelace, Sin, and Kaur have helped me more than any “self-help” book ever could. For I learned that other people have felt what I’ve felt, due to reasons similar to my own, and have come out on the other side. That just because something happened to you, doesn’t mean it defines you, and doesn’t mean you can’t be you again.

I’ve been inspired by these fantastic writers and have started writing my own poems. Now, by no means am I a poet or an author, but the simple act of writing has always proven to be therapeutic for me, especially poetry. I think this is so, because of the beauty behind poetry. It’s hard to feel sad when you’re writing such beautiful words.

I’ve always said that I would never share my poetry, because 1) it’s a little dark, and 2) I don’t think I’m very good. That might sound a little superficial, but I’m a bit of a perfectionist sometimes, which makes it hard to try new things, and writing poetry is definitely something new to me. However everyone starts somewhere, and if you don’t share your work, no one can learn from it.

They say you’re supposed to do one thing each day that scares you, so this is my big scary debut into the world of poetry.

May 13th

I say i stopped cutting on May 13th, but i didn't 
that was the day i passed the knife to you.
Each kiss, touch, and look was a lie
the knife dancing across my skin.
Every time you whispered 'i love you'
you dug the knife a little deeper.
I say i stopped cutting on May 13th, but i didn't
I stopped the day i left you. 

Sometimes a dark poems leave you feeling light. That is what this poem does for me. When I wrote it I didn’t plan to say what I said, the words just flowed. This was one of my first poems, and is about something that has very much changed my perspective on life. I’ve talked about self harm before, and it has been something I’ve wanted to forget for such a long time, however not anymore. I understand those emotions better now, and now they are what keep me grounded in times of unease.

My tally marks are a reminder of what what I’m capable of surviving, and my poetry is a reminder of how I’m going to overcome anything that tries to hold me back from living.

Grit

 

I don’t like to fail. I mean, nobody likes to fail, but as someone who struggles with depression and negative self-talk, failing at something really effects me. Some people find failure inspiring, encouraging, something that makes them want to work harder. When I fail at something I often feel the exact opposites, uninspired, discouraged and like I should just give up. This is related to grit.

In her book, Angela Duckworth defines grit as “Perseverance and passion for long-term goals”. I was challenged to read the book a few months back by my manager at work. I’m an avid reader who loves leadership and books of self-discovery, but honestly it took me a couple months to get through it. In one of the first chapters there is a Grit Scale for the reader to complete. Upon taking the scale, I had the anticipation that I was going to do really well and score a very high mark, when in reality I achieved a 3.9. Now don’t get me wrong, a 3.9 is still a really good mark, and is still “higher than 60% of Americans” however it was lower than I expected. This score caused me to believe I wasn’t gritty, and made it difficult for me to really connect with the contents of the book.

Once I finally finished the book, I put it down and didn’t open it for another few months. I completely stopped thinking about my gritty-ness, and moved on. It wasn’t until I was telling a co-worker about how horrible my first day of work was that I realized I might be grittier than I thought.

My first day of work I walked into my office and it was a total mess. I had to spend an hour cleaning before I could even sit down at my desk and start. By then I was already flustered and thrown off. It was my first administration job and I very quickly became confused. My manager didn’t know anything about how to complete my daily tasks and my Club Administration Specialist helped me the most she could over the phone from a different location. I locked my office door and started to cry. I was so overwhelmed, and felt like a total failure. I knew it was only my first day, but I felt like I was starting behind the starting line. No one checked on me for hours and I started to feel not only like a failure but also lonely, like my new co-workers didn’t care or even know I existed. I somehow stretched a 5 hour day into a 10 hour day, then missed the bus and walked home.

After telling my story, I felt an sense of resilience. I had overcome an awful first day on the job and did not quit. I stayed and made it better. I stayed and 1.5 years later I even found myself moving up through the company. It was my own personal grit that kept me there.

Now it’s months later since I originally read the book, “Grit”, and I finally feel the connection. I feel like I can finally relate to all the personal stories and experiences in the book, and this realization didn’t come from some scale, but the retelling of my own gritty story.

Since I’ve discovered my grittiness, I’ve realized it is what keeps me working harder and harder each day to do whatever I can to make my associates feel cared for, and to make our location the best it can be.

I can truly say, “Grit” by Angela Duckworth has inspired me. It wasn’t one line that hit me in the face with inspiration, but rather seeped into my brain waiting for a perfect moment to strike.

10/10 would recommend.

Guilt.

Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do. – Steve Jobs

I was recently asked if I knew the difference between ‘guilt’ and ‘shame’. I was immediately offended, and answered with “obviously”, then when I was asked to define both I was stumped. I had been using the words interchangeably, I didn’t realize there was a difference between them. I was encouraged to look into the definitions, to fully understand the difference. Here are my findings;

Dictionary.com defines guilt as a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, while defining shame as a painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonourable. The way I see it, is guilt is a reaction, whereas shame is an emotion. Which means that what I have been classifying as “Bad Guilt” this whole time was actually shame.

In the past, I’ve spoke about how I like guilt, how it saved my life. I used to call this guilt, “Good Guilt”, however now I realize it was just regular, normal guilt. I’ll explain.. When I was at my lowest of lows, I was fantasizing about death, and mapping out the perfect plan. I was counting down the days, but at the same time I was starting to feel extremely guilty about the pain I was about to put onto my family and friends. I knew that once I went through with it, they would be left with aftermath, and “what if’s”. This guilt kept me up at night, made me second guess my decision, and ultimately forced me to not do it.

What followed this guilt was a whole lot of shame. So much shame that I couldn’t speak about my decision of what not to do, for almost a year, and even then not openly. I had this secret that I kept thinking back to and was causing me “Bad Guilt”, or what I now know as shame. I was ashamed of what I had planned to do, and how it would have hurt the people around me.

Learning there is a difference between guilt and shame, and that I don’t exactly need to be calling them good guilt and bad guilt anymore doesn’t really change anything. I just thought it was interesting, and it brought up some old memories. However, what I did learn is guilt is not an emotion, but something caused by yourself. Which made me realize I can be mindful of it. So if I notice I’m feeling guilty, I can validate the thought then squash it. Knowing it’s a reaction to something, I can push the guilt aside and figure out what the main issue really is. I don’t need to ever feel guilty again.

2017

It’s January 1st, today is the day people everywhere reflect on the previous 365 days and make plans for the next. The past few years I’ve always started the new year by making a pros and cons list of the prior year. Reflecting on the previous year is a great way to be thankful for your positive experiences and to learn from the negative ones. This year
I’m not doing that. I’m not wasting the happiness I have today by trying to decode 2016’s cons and learn something from them. I will however focus on making 2017 better than 2016, one day at a time, starting with today.

I talk a lot about living in the present and not dwelling on the past, however that isn’t something I’ve done a very good job of lately. The past couple months have been very difficult for me. My past kept forcing itself to the forefront of my mind and even the reminders I have tattooed on my body couldn’t bring me back to the present. My mood seemed to be stuck at a dangerously low level, my thoughts turned dark and I started to experience intrusive thoughts of suicide. These  dark thoughts and shadows aren’t anything new to me, however it’s been a long time since I haven’t been able to do something to help myself out of the darkness. It scared me. I made some very poor decisions in my vulnerable state, grasping at the smallest pieces of temporary happiness to try and brighten my mood. Of course this only resulted in pulling me further down, and scaring me more.

Today, I’m grateful that it’s the beginning of a new week, and a new year.

Today, I got out of bed feeling rested, meditated for 6 minutes, got dressed, left the house, sang along to music while driving, and was finally able to organize my thoughts enough to write.

Today, I feel less scared.

As I previously said, I’m not going to waste today’s happiness on yesterday, but I’m going to focus this positive energy into making today great and tomorrow even better.

Daily Challenges:

Meditate ; Write ; Eat a minimum of 2 meals ; Drink a minimum of 2 litres

Weekly Challenges:

1 Blogpost ; Exercise 4 times a week

Monthly Challenges:

Read 2 books ; Put 15% of each paycheque into savings

Yearly Challenges:

Travel to 3 countries ; Cross 5 things off my bucket list

I have more challenges and goals already set for myself and I’m sure the list will continue to grow, but these are the ones I’m choosing to share because these are all second-chance-goals. I’ve set these as goals before and have not completed them, that is why this year they’re challenges instead.

So thats thats. I’ve set my challenges and goals for 2017 without dwelling on the past year, I’m finishing one chapter and turning the page to the next. It might seem strange, but this year I’m embracing my inner Bob Ross..

“You need the dark in order to show the light”

“Look around. Look at what we have. Beauty is everywhere, you only have to look to see it.”

and of course,

“There are no mistakes, just happy little accidents”